Judge throws out lawsuit involving the Jame Mayor Gallery, Pace Gallery, and artist Agnes Martin

Judge throws out lawsuit involving the Jame Mayor Gallery, Pace Gallery, and artist Agnes Martin
Works by Agnes Martin. Courtesy Flickr Commons.

In a 16-page ruling, judge Andrea Masley threw out a lawsuit brought on by art dealer James Mayor, owner of the London-based James Mayor Gallery, against art dealer Arne Glimcher, founder of Pace Gallery, Marc Glimcher, son of Arne and president of Pace, and Tiffany Bell, editor of the catalogue raisonné of works by Agnes Martin.

The lawsuit, which essentially began with claims made in 2016, was brought forth by Mayor stating that the defendants had ‘unlawfully declared that thirteen authentic Agnes Martin artworks [owned by the gallery] were fakes, resulting in a loss to The Mayor Gallery LTD of more than $7 million.’ Those 2016 claims were dismissed in April of last year; however, Mayor reiterated the claim after that dismissal with supposed new information. Masley, though, did not find his most recent claim to have any clout.

Throughout Masley’s decision, she repeatedly stated that Mayor ‘did not assert new facts’ in his case. She found that ‘[a]ll claims in the [first amended complaint] against the individual defendants were previously dismissed by this court in resolving [the first motion]. In the [second amended complaint] plaintiff does not assert new facts as to any act or omission by [Tiffany] Bell in connection with any of the claims.’ In Mayor’s amended claim, he believed that the Glimchers did not include the Martin works owned by Mayor’s gallery in Bell’s catalogue for financial gain, but Masley found these claims to be ‘vague.’ Masley also questioned if the catalogue raisonné ‘has any bearing on a work’s value, has been recognized by New York courts as a function of the art marketplace, and it is not for the court to determine what the art market should or should not credit as reliable.’

‘They brought this lawsuit twice,’ said the defendants’ attorney, Aaron Richard Golub. ‘The judge gave them every opportunity in the world to make every claim under the sun, which they did. They personally sued Marc and Arne and it was a baseless, mean-spirited lawsuit. In the main, it was all about the rights of catalogue raisonné committees.’ Golub continued saying, ‘[t]he art world as it exists today needs to have works that are validated. Otherwise the collector is at the mercy of the vagaries of what can happen illegally,’ referring to cases that have arose around the works of renowned artists like Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, and Jean-Michel Basquiat.

This might not be the end of the road for the lawsuit, though, as Mel Leventhal, Mayor’s attorney, told artnet News in an email that they plan to once again appeal the decision. In that email, he said:

‘We of course respect Justice Masley’s decision. However, the decision is now ripe for review in the appeals court which will carefully examine Justice Masley’s reasoning and ultimately render the opinion controlling in this case. And it may be a year before that appellate court decision is rendered.’